Saturday 28 November 2020

40 Free Patterns for Gifts for Kids

There are, of course, downsides to making gifts, particularly for kids. You do run the risk of witnessing your efforts go ignored and unappreciated by the recipient, at least on the day of the actual celebration. However, if you have the time, energy and brain space to spare, there are many reasons why making gifts can be better than buying them: 

  • Most makers would probably prefer to spend an hour or two at their sewing machine than trawling the shops or websites seeking out something to buy.
  • If you already have a stash of fabric and supplies, these projects will most likely work out much cheaper than a bought equivalent.
  • My personal favourite: you can avoid the demand for more plastic to be produced, that takes the form of packaging or perhaps the item itself.
  • At risk of ruining the 'evergreen' nature of this blog post, the current global Covid situation is making going to bricks-and-mortar shops or receiving countless deliveries of online orders less appealing-slash-risky business at the moment. 

The run up to celebrations is usually pretty stressful, so please don't go heaping loads of sewing projects on top of everything else. But if you do fancy making a gift or stocking-filler for a child in your life, I've got a big ol' list below of patterns (plus a couple of tutorials) that will cost you nowt. There are countless free sewing patterns and projects out there on the interwebs. The selection below are ones that appeal to me, keeping my own kids and other kids I know, in mind. I've separated them into four sections:
  1. Toys
  2. Accessories
  3. Simple clothing
  4. Dressing up
Please note: some of these patterns are easily downloadable from the webpages I've included the links to, whereas some require a Facebook account or signing up to a newsletter to access the pattern. I have personally downloaded, and even made a few of the patterns listed below, but cannot vouch for all of them. I want to thank all the talented and generous designers who have shared their hard work for free. Enjoy!



Heart Pouch by Patterns for Pirates

Simple Clothing:

(image source: @horsesloveapples on Instagram)

(image source: lilypadmontana)

Dressing Up:

Thursday 26 November 2020

Mend it, Wear it, Love it: I WROTE A BOOK!!!!!

So, funny story: I WROTE A BOOK!!!! An actual, IRL, paper-and-ink, honest-to-goodness book! I know, I can barely believe it either.

Towards the beginning of Lockdown 1.0 DK publishers approached me to write a beginner-friendly book that will help people make their clothes last longer. After explaining why this is important, it covers simple mending techniques for common garment mishaps, ideas and how-tos for altering the fit and style of your garments, as well as loads of info on how to care for your clothes properly. The book is called ‘Mend it, Wear it, Love it’ and will be available from 4th Feb 2021. It’s currently available for pre-order, and if you’re in the U.K., please may I recommend checking out to support indie bookshops if you’re thinking of ordering a copy (it’s really reasonable, BTW).

Truth be told, when DK contacted me, I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed by the new reality of life in lockdown. I had to think hard about whether or not taking this on was the right thing to do, but writing it ended up being a truly wonderful, if frantic, experience. And now that I have a copy in my possession, I could not be more proud to have been part of its creation. The design team have done an amazing job, and I genuinely think that content is really useful for those wanting to make their wardrobe more sustainable.

DK has a rep for producing very clear, user-friendly, practical guides. So whilst being pretty, I’m also confident that ‘Mend it, Wear it, Love it’ sufficiently supports beginners through all the mending, refitting and altering techniques, even if you’re completely new to the sewing game. As I was writing the steps for each technique, I drew sketches for each step that the fantastic illustrator Steven Marsden then made actually recognisable!

For me, the parts of the book that I’m most proud of tho, are the sections where the problems of today’s clothing industry are linked to the practical steps in this book. My aim was to help the reader feel empowered and emboldened to give the techniques a try, including the embracing of imperfection. We also managed to make the topic of laundry and garment care interesting hahaha!

‘Any repair that extends the life of a garment by even one more wear is a major success’ - me!

Friday 6 November 2020

Free Pattern Friday: Mini Sewpony Doll's Clothes

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

So as you may recall, last month I dropped the ball and road tested a sewing pattern that patterns to be precise) has only just dropped. It's another child-related post, so sorry if you only tune in for the adult sewing-content. But hopefully this will be a particularly useful post if there's a doll-loving kid in your life that you plan to give gifts to this Christmas, or for any other holiday or event that may be coming up. It also offers a great opportunity to use up some scraps of fabric that you may have leftover from previous projects. 

Sewpony is one of my very favourite children's sewing pattern companies. Their pattern selection skilfully combines modern and classic design elements, and skews towards the traditionally female. I have bought a couple of their patterns in the past, and took part in the testing for another. Some time ago, I saw on their IG feed that Suz, the designer of Sewpony, was working on a collection of mini Sewpony patterns to fit Paola Reina Las Amiga dolls. I hadn't heard of the dolls before, but having recently had a conversation with my daughter about her wanting a doll, I did some research and ear-marked them as something my mother-in-law could buy Dolores for her recent birthday. So that Lola's doll wouldn't be naked (her's arrived just in her pants), I put my hand up to join the testing group for the doll's clothes patterns. Some of the little garments you see in this post are pre-testing versions of the patterns, and some are made using the final iterations. Massive thanks to Suz from Sewpony for offering up these adorable patterns for free. I can't even imagine how much work it took to draft the patterns and produce all the instructions. And now she's doing it all over again for another doll range called Minikane

(image source: Sewpony)

Pattern type:

The mini Sewpony collection includes miniaturised and simplified versions of no less than eight Sewpony patterns. They can also be used as a basis for making all sorts of variations. The patterns include all seam and hem allowances. All but one of the styles have written but un-illustrated step-by-step instructions, however, the Miss Polly dress instructions include photographs. Which is handy because that appears to be the trickiest!

Sizing info:

Las Amigas dolls are 32cm /13" high, so these patterns have been developed for that. However, you could try monkeying with your printer's scale settings to make the patterns suitable for larger or smaller dolls and toys.

Fabric info: 

Each style has its own fabric recommendations, however, generally speaking, light-weight woven cotton and single jersey with good stretch and recovery will be the most useful for this project. One point to consider: if you wish to use a fabric with print or pattern, make sure that the scale of it doesn't look odd when made into tiny clothes. 

I absolutely love that these little garments can be made using small scraps that might otherwise be pretty useless. In general, I adore sewing projects that use scraps and leftovers because they feel like they're a 'free' project (especially when they're used with a free pattern or tutorial)! I used scraps of cotton/elastane single jersey for the Sorella T-shirt (the white-with-gold flecks one) and Sorella dress (the red/white/blue striped one), ponte Roma and rib for the Sorella sweatshirt, swimwear lycra for the Cosi (you could easily use cotton/elastane jersey for this one but my daughter was very adamant that it had to be real swimwear fabric!), double gauze for the skirt, chambray for the 'jeans' and pleather for the Twiggy dress (the gold one). 


Sewing dolls clothes is really fun but sooooooper fiddly! I wouldn't recommend trying to make these in a rush. The pattern pieces are really clear (and very cute). The step by step instructions provide the help you need, but are not excessively hand-holdy, so I probably wouldn't recommend this project for a beginner. Your child could definitely help you make these doll's clothes, but it would need someone with a few garment sewing projects under their belt to work alongside.

Customisation ideas:

These patterns definitely provide a great basis for experimentation. In my local haberdashery/craft shop I found some miniature buttons that I'm looking forward to using. I also added some extra topstitching detail to both the trousers and the pleather dress. I'd recommend following the #minisewponycollection hashtag on IG to see what others come up with. 

Would I make them again?

Without a shadow of a doubt! I'm considering getting my daughter another of these dolls so her current one (officially 'Liu', but Dolores's is called Rose) has someone to hang out with. I really hope they get on...

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